February 24, 2017

Alzheimer’s Keeps Reminding Me Why I Love being Catholic

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson


I have written about my wife, Marty’s, Alzheimer’s Disease several times. This is another. It was unplanned and spontaneous, triggered by the unique world she and I have come to share together.


pineterest.com

I was trying to write something but I was stuck in “neutral”. No pencil scratching, no pen sliding, no keyboard clicking. Then Marty came in and stood there just looking at me and not saying anything.  I smiled at her and said, “What’s going on?”

She shakes her head and says, “I really do not feel like going to work tomorrow.” (She has not worked in almost ten years)

I nonchalantly reply, “Okay, then don’t.”

“Larry, please don’t start with me. You know I have bills to pay.”

“Well then, I’ll call in for you. I’ll tell them you are not feeling good.”

She quickly throws a curve at me. I back away, surprised at the sudden diversion. Raising her voice she says, “We had better get a few things straight. I have standards and I am not going to be living in sin. I cannot be living here if we are not married.”

I did not know what that had to do with her ‘job” but I mentally bobbed and weaved and circled around. Quickly I said, “We are married.”

She was stunned. She stared at me and I stared back. A moment passed and she said, “We are?”
“Yes Marty, we have been married for ten years.”

“I suppose you know this for a fact? How can you be sure?”

“We have the papers to prove it.”

 I quickly said an emergency “Hail Mary” asking for help. God knew I was in over my head and immediately sent one of His special people. Maybe it was St. Therese or St. Joseph or maybe St. Martha. I really did not care who it was but just like that I had a “thought”. (These folks do not fool around when sent on a mission).

I had her sit down on the sofa and wait for me. I headed back to my “office” (some may call it a man-cave) and began rifling through the file cabinet in the corner. The top drawer is stuffed with all sorts of “important” papers and I knew that somewhere amongst the mass of unorganized stuff was our marriage license. I started scratching away, peeling papers apart.

I did not keep track of the time but when I looked at the mess of papers I had strewn about it must have been fifteen minutes. Then I hit pay-dirt. I found our marriage license. I was sure this would prove to her once and for all that we were, in fact, married.

I hurried back to the sofa and to the woman who immediately asked if I had just gotten home. “Yes,” I shouted. “And look what I have.”

The Pinellas County Marriage License was too confusing for her to understand. The print was small and even though our names were legible and the paper was emblazoned with the words, “Marriage Record”, it did not convince her. I realized she needed “Catholic” proof. That was why she had used the words “living in sin”. Now we come to why I wrote this in the first place.

I slowly headed back to the file cabinet to put the marriage license away. But I had not noticed when pulling the marriage license out that behind it was the 8 X 11 marriage certificate that the church had given us. It was behind the license the whole time. I could not believe it.

It was not a legal document but it was a BEAUTIFUL CATHOLIC document. It had our names on it. On the left side was a Cross with connected wedding bands connected to it. The church’s name was there and it was signed by the deacon and the pastor. It was also perfect for framing.

I had an 11 x 14 frame that was unused. Ten minutes later I brought it out to her. I had her sit next to me on the sofa. “Are you ready?” I asked.

“For what?”

I held this framed certificate up in front of her. She stared and stared at it and then she looked at me and began to cry. She put her head on my shoulder and cried some more. We have used the Hail Mary and the Rosary to help us over some rough Alzheimer moments. This time the purely Catholic marriage document was the answer to the prayer. It now hangs in the Florida room and she can see it every day anytime she needs to. Damn—I love being Catholic.


                                        ©Copyright Larry Peterson 2017

February 3, 2017

He was a Catholic Priest--He was Martyred Because of it--He was only 22 years old--*

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

The damnable and malevolent Cristero War was officially considered ended in 1929. But that did not signal the end of the torture, murder and martyrdom of Catholic religious and lay-persons in Mexico.  The following happened in July of 1931 but first a bit of background.

Dario Acosta Zurita was born on December 13, 1908 in the town of Naolinco in the Mexican state of Vera Cruz. He was one of four boys and had one sister. His dad was a butcher and the family, like most other families in the area, struggled to make ends meet. Dario, like his siblings, was baptized in the local church of St. Matthew and it was his mom who was his catechist as he grew up.

Dario was well behaved, did what he was supposed to and was a relatively quiet boy. When his dad died the family fell into extreme poverty. Dario was forced to find work to help support the family. In his young heart he he had been hearing  the calling to the priesthood but he thought he would never be able to answer it. However, God must have had Dario on His radar screen.

Blessed Dario Acosta Zurita
 Not long after his father's passing Bishop Rafael Guizar y Valencia, ( an entire story unto himself--coming soon) visited Vera Cruz. He was looking for potential seminarians and Dario expressed his desire to become a priest. The bishop (who at one time had to disguise himself as a junkman because there was an order in place for him to be shot on site) told Dario that his responsibility to his mom and siblings superseded his personal wants. In addition, Dario was too young. The bishop told him to pray to Our Lady of Guadalupe for help and guidance.

Dario's mom knew of this and traveled to Xalapa to see the bishop. She pleaded with Bishop Guizar y Valencia to reconsider. Our Lady must have been in the room that day because the bishop relented and gave permission for Dario to enter the seminary. The young man won his superiors and class mates over with his kindness, charitable persona and his devotion to his faith. In addition, Dario was an excellent athlete and became captain of the seminary football team.

Dario Acosta Zurita became Father Angel Dario Acosta Zurita on April 25, 1931. The new priest was only 22 years old. He celebrated his first Mass in Vera Cruz on May 24 and began serving as a parochial vicar at the Parish of the Assumption in Vera Cruz. Father Dario was very dedicated to teaching the children catechism (adults too) and he loved being able to hear confessions.

At the same time, the Governor of Vera Cruz, Adalberto Tejeda, decided that he was "sick of the religious fanaticism of the people". He issued a decree called the "Tejeda  Law" which basically banned all priests from administering to their parishioners. Mass was banned, catechism classes were  halted and confessions were forbidden.  All priests in the diocese were notified by numbered letter advising them they MUST obey the "Tejeda Law".

However, the priests in the area had gotten together on July 21st and agreed that their responsibility was not to the government but to their priesthood and their faith. The decided that they would not obey the satanic inspired "Tejeda Law".

The law took effect on Saturday, July 25, 1931. It was sometime after 5 p.m. that afternoon the children began arriving for catechism classes at Assumption Parish while people began getting in line for confession. Three priests were in the church. Father Landa, Father Rosas and Father Dario who was in the baptistry. Suddenly, a little after 6 p.m., the three church doors to the church burst open and soldiers charged into the church.

These  men opened fire on the priests. Father Landa was gravely wounded. Father Rosas survived by hiding behind the pulpit. Father Dario, upon hearing the gunfire, rushed from the baptistry. His body was riddled  with bullets. He fell into the sanctuary as all the children and adults watched in horror. Father's last word before he died was , "JESUS!"

Father Dario Acosta Zurita was only 22 years old when he was martyred. He had been a priest for exactly three months.

Father Zurita was beatified and declared "Blessed" on November 20, 2005. The ceremony took place in front of thousands of the faithful at Jalisco Stadium in Guadalajara, Mexico.  Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins presided under the authority of Pope Benedict XVI.

Blessed Angel Dario Acosta Zurita--Please pray for us all

See edited version in Aleteia Jan 25, 2017

                                   ©Copyright Larry Peterson 2017 All Rights Reserved

January 26, 2017

A Few “Turtle” Thoughts during the March for Life, 2017

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson              

In Florida, sand as white as snow curls up the Gulf Coast from Naples north to the panhandle area with some of the most beautiful beaches on the planet. People come from all over the world to visit these beaches and bask in the brilliant Florida sun and fish and swim in the calm and clear Gulf waters. But there is one thing these folks and all folks had better not do while visiting these beaches. If they do not want to wind up in jail they had better not mess around with the sea turtles. They are on the Endangered Species List and they nest on the beaches.

We have in place in this country a law called the Endangered Species Act. Under this act wildlife considered "endangered" are protected by law from being killed, maimed or harmed in anyway. There are many good points to this law as some of our most revered wildlife, like the Bald Eagle, have been saved from possible extinction. But, what about the "Baby People"? Don't they count?

Loggerhead Turtle  Wikipedia common
The Loggerhead Sea Turtle is one of these protected turtles. It can be found (like baby people) all over the world. However, its primary habitat is the Florida coast north to Virginia. It is estimated that these turtles build 67,000 nests a year along the beaches. The female lays her eggs in the sand and buries them. After two months they hatch, crawl to the sea and begin their lives. Of all the hatch-lings maybe 8000 baby turtles survive.  They will live close to 60 years.

It is illegal to harm, harass, or kill any sea turtles, their eggs, or hatchlings. It is also illegal to import, sell, or transport turtles or their products. It is perfectly legal to kill baby people who have not been born. In the United States, since Roe vs Wade was passed in 1973, over 58,000,000 abortions have been performed. Fifty-eight million baby people have been vanquished from existence, many of them burned alive via the Saline Abortion method. That extrapolates out to 1,348,837 baby people a year killed in America.

In 2014 there were 3.93 million births in the United States. That means that approximately one out of every four pregnancies in our country results in a life extinguished. Sea turtles are given every chance to survive with the government going so far as to put people in prison who might interfere with their survival. On the other hand, baby people are welcomed into legalized and sweetly painted extermination camps and, unmercifully and without fanfare or emotion, eradicated.

Whatever are we doing? We civilized people have allowed a portion of our past to be destroyed. We are allowing our present to be vilified by what can only be called a great lie fabricated as the virtue of "helping" women. We have short circuited the future of our children and grandchildren by taking away from them the possibility of another Rembrandt, or a Mozart or a Jonas Salk, or a Martin Luther King Jr., or even an Abraham Lincoln living among them.

There is a world wide abortion counter that ticks off the abortions around the world as they happen. Look for yourself. More than one life a second is being aborted. Genocide of the innocent, living in and out of the womb, is rampant on planet Earth. Whatever have we wrought?

As the great St. John Paul II said, “A nation that kills its own children is a nation without hope.”                                                              
                                            ©Copyright Larry Peterson 2017 All Rights Reserved

January 16, 2017

“Ad Orientem”—the Symbolism is Truly Beautiful

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson


Long ago, in a Church somewhat different, I was an altar boy (it was pre Vatican II and we never used the term altar server). It was a time when the Mass was said in Latin and the priest always faced “ad orientem”. (This actually means “toward the east” but, since so many churches do not have their altars facing east, it also refers to the priest offering the Holy Sacrifice with his back to the people.


Ad Orientem (Solemn High Latin Mass)  http://southernorderspage
The reason for this symbolism is profound and beautiful.  The sun rises in the east and we are coming out of the darkness to see the sun. The priest, who will stand in the shoes of Christ during the Consecration, is facing the newly risen sun, ergo, God. At that moment, the priest, upon elevating the consecrated host toward the EAST, is actually Jesus saying to God, “This is MY body which will be given for you. Then the consecrated wine is also elevated to the Father.”

When offering Mass “ad orientem” the priest has no distractions that are facing him. The congregation behind him is, in effect, present at the Last Supper. The altar boy would ring the bells to bring attention to this miraculous moment taking place before our very eyes. The people have just witnessed the most profound mystery of our faith and it all took place in only a few minutes.

And there we kneel, the faithful, some watching and adoring the Body and Blood of Christ while many others are looking around, fidgeting, checking their watches, yawning, skimming through the church bulletin they should have read when they got home, not having a clue as to what is going on at the Mass they are attending. But that’s okay because at least they made it to Mass and are not home “sleeping in”. What has just happened is beyond description and the very answer to life itself. Yet it all presents to many as a grand paradox.

A friend of mine, his name is Jeff, was injured in an accident years ago. He has a pronounced limp and uses a cane. Every week he comes to Sunday Mass and sits in the exact same seat. Every Sunday, without fail, he gets up at the beginning of the Consecration and slowly limps off to the bathroom. He always comes back after the wine is consecrated. He receives Holy Communion and, at a slightly accelerated pace, leaves Church before communion is even finished being distributed.  There are several others who, without fail, come every Sunday and miss the Consecration. They must not have a clue as to what is going on yet there they are, week after week.

Of course we all just had are influx of the C & E Catholics for Christmas. Although not “packed”, my church was definitely crowded. Interestingly, most every person at Mass received Holy Communion. Am I getting paradoxical yet? Is this why we have the phrase, “cafeteria Catholics” in our 21st century Catholic jargon?

Back in 1966, when Pope Benedict XVI was still Joseph Ratzinger, he said, “Is it actually that important to see the priest in the face or is it not truly healing to think that he is also another Christian like all the others and that he is turning with them towards God and to say with everyone ‘Our Father’?”

Pope Benedict XVI showed his love of ‘ad orientem’ 50 years ago. On October 12, 2016, (while meeting with Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, he reiterated his preferences in a reflection letter published in L'osservatore Romano: In the liturgy’s orientation to the East, we see that Christians, together with the Lord, want to progress toward the salvation of creation in its entirety. Christ, the crucified and risen Lord, is at the same time also the “sun” that illumines the world. Faith is also always directed toward the totality of creation. Therefore, Patriarch Bartholomew fulfills an essential aspect of his priestly mission precisely with his commitment to creation.”

                                      ©Copyright 2017 Larry Peterson

January 9, 2017

Five Things to Think of from St Joseph’s Perspective

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson


Within the Christmas narrative I am always drawn to how Good St. Joseph must have felt with the responsibility of  caring for and protecting his immediate family, the Blessed Virgin and The Son of God.  As a man, I try to imagine having to confront what Joseph confronted as a  husband and new father. It makes me a bit sick to my stomach imagining myself in his sandals. 

Here are five moments I like to consider: 



St. Joseph, thank you and please pray for all of us.

December 23, 2016

A Tailor’s Inspiration Brought the World a Pope *

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME


By Larry Peterson

The influence of St. John of the Cross, the great poet and mystic of the 16th century, reached across the centuries and inspired a simple tailor in Nazi occupied Poland to aspire to sainthood. In turn, this simple man became the catalyst for another man who was not even considering becoming a priest. Yet, this aspiring actor would one day become Pope. The man’s name was Jan Tyranowski. The man who would one day be pope was Karol Wojtyla.

Born in Krakow in 1900, Jan Tyranowski was the son of a tailor. His dad had bigger plans for his boy and Jan became an accountant. Jan was a bit of a loner and enjoyed being by himself allowing his abundantly curious mind to fill his spare time.

He loved science, studying foreign languages, gardening and even the new science of psychology. He especially loved photography. Even though he kept his mind filled with the wonders around him he knew something was missing. There was an emptiness, an unexplained void, which he could not fill.
Jan took ill in 1930 with a chronic stomach ailment which rendered him constantly sick. So he left accounting and took up tailoring with his father. Amazingly, with his stress levels reduced in his new job, Jan became a much happier man. His faith also began to increase and he became more and more active in his parish.

Jan Tyranowski--Courtesy Salesianity Blogs
Then came Jan’s “enlighteneing”. It happened at a Sunday Mass sometime in 1935. He was at Mass and the Salesian priest saying the Mass made a statement during his homily that changed Jan’s life forever. The priest simply said, “It is not difficult to be a saint.”

To Jan this was unprecedented. He thought sainthood was only for priests and religious. There was no room in the saintly world for lay people---or was there? The priest went on to say that lay people could also live saintly lives by going to frequent Mass, saying their prayers and doing good works.

Jan Tyranowski listened and realized the spirituality he thought he was not permitted to have was available to him too. All he would have to do would was embrace the work needed to attain it. When he he left the church that Sunday, he was a changed man.

He began growing in spirituality praying and meditating every morning for up to four hours and then devoting other parts of his day to prayer and reflection. Jan asked a parish priest for advice on some quality reading material and the priest gave him a prayer manual he had used in the seminary. Jan poured through the manual and expanded his reading eventually coming across the works of St. John of the Cross. The writings of this saint became his constant companion for the rest of his life.

By 1940 more than half the priestly population of Krakow had been deported. One of the parish priests asked Jan if he would become more involved with the youth ministry in the parish. Jan became the youth leader at St. Stanislaus Parish which also happened to be the university parish attended by a young man by the name of Karol Wojtyla. Karol aspired to be an actor.

Jan had an innate ability to inspire spirituality in others. His apostolate to the young quickly grew and among those who were part of it were the future pope. At first, Karol was turned off by Jan Tyranowki’s seemingly overbearing and strict manner of dealing with prayer and meditation. But when Jan formed a “Living Rosary”, Karol began to soften.

Karol Wojtyla’s dad died in 1941. The young man had no immediate family and before long he became an eager recipient of Jan’s guidance. When Jan introduced the works of St. John of the Cross to young Karol it changed his life. The 16th century mystic became one of the future pope’s lifelong inspirations. Jan Tyranowski more or less became a father-figure to Karol. They became great friends and often walked together talking about the things of God.

Karol Wojytla was ordained a priest on November 1, 1946. Jan Tyranowski died on March 15, 1947. He had lived to see his favorite student attain the priesthood. Father Wojytla would become Pope John Paul II on October 16, 1978. He would be canonized a saint on April 27, 2014 by Pope Francis. Pope St. John Paul II credited Jan Tyranowski with his recognizing his vocation and rejecting an acting career. St. John Paul II wrote of Tyranowski:

“He was one of those unknown saints, hidden amid the others like a marvelous light at the bottom of life, at a depth where night usually reigns. He disclosed to me the riches of his inner life, of his mystical life. In his words, in his spirituality and in the example of a life given to God alone, he represented a new world that I did not yet know. I saw the beauty of a soul opened up by grace.”

The Salesians of Don Bosco have put forward Jan for beatification and he has been declared a Servant of God.  We ask Jan Tyranowski to pray for us all.

*This article appeared in Aleteia on Jan 7,2017

                                   ©Copyright 2016 Larry Peterson

December 22, 2016

Let the Children have Santa Claus---He's Heaven Sent and Lives Forever

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

by Larry Peterson

The title of my blog is It Makes Sense To Me.  I'm sure many will feel that the title of this article makes no sense at all. Well, I don't care. The fact is, Santa Claus is rooted in the great St. Nicholas and this 3rd century saint, heeding the words of Christ to "sell what you own and give the money to the poor", did just that; he gave everything he had to the poor  and needy. He devoted his very existence to serving God.

St. Nicholas morphed into the Santa we are familiar with today. But there is no getting away from the fact that his origin was heaven sent. The Santa Claus we know and all that goes with him has filled the hearts of children with wonder and awe since the 19th century. Why do so many folks want to take it way? Why does anyone feel the child must know the "truth". They find out soon enough what "truth" is. Believing in Santa Claus and the wonder he creates never hurt anyone.

We have just been through the nastiest presidential campaign and election in our life times. Editorials about the candidates were often lies, innuendo, and falsehoods. Therefore, It Makes Sense To Me, to share an editorial from Mr. Francis Pharecellus Church, who was an editorial writer for the old New York Sun. The editorial was about Santa Claus. It was written during a time when there were no radios, phones, televisions, iPads, smart phones or even blue-tooth. People talked to each other and used paper, pen and pencil to message each other. Can you imagine?

What follows was written back in 1897 and, It STILL Makes Sense To Me.  Some of you might have seen this before. If you have, enjoy it again. If not, enjoy it now. It is a letter written by eight year old, Virginia O'Hanlon, of West 95th Street in New York City, to the newspaper asking if  Santa Claus was TRUE. Her dad had told her that if the "Sun" said it was true than it must  be so. Enjoy a moment back in time when things were a bit simpler and the innocence of children was loved and respected by most 'grown-ups'.



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~photo courtesy  hollywoodreporter.com~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



Is There A Santa Claus?
From the editorial page of The New York Sun
September 21, 1897
_______________________________________________
Dear Editor---I am eight years old. Some of my friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, “If you see it in THE SUN, it’s so. Please tell me the truth. Is there a Santa Claus?
Virginia O’Hanlon
115 W. 95th St.
_______________________________________________
Dear Virginia, your friends are wrong. They have been affected by the scepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except what they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes Virginia, there isa Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! How dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginia. There would be no child-like faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence.We should have no enjoyment except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your Papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if you did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen andunseeable in the world.

You tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and  picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah Virginia, in all this world, there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God he lives! And he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten time ten thousand years from now , he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year


December 6, 2016

Our Greatest Christmas Gift: God’s Earthly Trinity; A Young Man, His Teenage Wife and a Newborn Baby—

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

If it were two thousand years ago and you lived in Nazareth you might notice a young man packing items on a donkey in preparation for a trip. Early the next morning you see this fellow, with his pregnant teenage wife sitting on the back of the burro, heading down the road. They are in compliance with the law of the day. They are on their way to Bethlehem, the town of their ancestor’s birth, for the census.

We know so little about the lives of Joseph and Mary, yet they are THE integral part of the Salvation story.  Mary's acceptance of a pregnancy that might have resulted in her being stoned to death as an adulteress was an act of monumental humility. Joseph, a good man and a faithful Jew true to the law, accepted a pregnant woman as his wife, another act of extreme humility. (Imagine how much he must have loved this young woman)

Holy Family  & First Christmas  from Pineterest
To complete this humble family was none other than God Himself. The Creator of all that is became like one of His creations. He could have come in a majestic way, surrounded by armies and servants and glitter and pomp. He chose to come to us in the womb of his mom, just like all of us. He allowed Himself to be born among the animals in a cave. As He began His earthly life His body was wrapped in cloth and then placed on straw. Why would He do it this way?

He did it to show us…show us Goodness, show us Love and show us how to give those things from within ourselves.  Foremost, He did it to save us, save us from ourselves and Satan’s favorite tool, Pride, which had brought down Adam and Eve. The Holy Family was, and still is, the complete and perfect embodiment of Humility. It remains so to this very day. Of course, the antidote to Pride is Humility. 

Isn't God amazing in the way He does things? This is the story of our Salvation and the rebirth of Hope. This Salvation became available to all people for all time and its success was entrusted to a couple of have-not young people whose humility and love of God enabled them to conquer the seemingly impossible.

Guided by the Holy Spirit they united in marriage. Then, absorbed by each other’s love they took on the world. They traveled to Bethlehem while Mary was full term, a three to five day journey on the back of a donkey. Joseph walked guiding the donkey. Mary gave birth in a cave surrounded by smelly animals and filth and they watched and marveled as poor shepherds and rich kings worshipped their child side by side.

They managed to escape the soldiers of King Herod, who were trying to kill their newborn Son.  Imagine the fear in Joseph as he wondered how he could protect his little family from the forces of evil. And, lest we forget, he also got them safely to Egypt, about three hundred miles away. He must have been something. We know the rest of the story.

If you take a moment to ponder all that happened and how it happened and why it happened, it will leave you breathless. And then we remember it was all done for all of us. There was nothing done for themselves, not one thing. We need to get back to what "Family" is and the Holy Family is the model to build on.

We must never forget that within that family it was the husband and father who protected his wife and Son from the evils of the world. The Son humbled Himself and gave his life for us all.  And the Mom, our Mom too, the most humble of all women ever, stands ever vigilant and  ready to crush the head of the evil serpent who might harm any of her children. In so doing she is protecting all of us for all eternity. She is our protection against all wickedness. When we ask for her protection we cover ourselves with an impenetrable shield.

Fittingly, the Catholic Church celebrates the Feast of the Holy Family on the Sunday following Christmas. There are millions of folks who never pay an iota of attention to this family. Maybe it is time that they should for this is the family that "set the bar" for all families for all time.

The Salvation story comprises the greatest acts of human Love, Goodness and Humility ever. Mary, Joseph and their boy, Jesus, encompassed by an unconditional love for God and each other, offers that love to all of us.  God’s earthly Trinity has shown us the way.

How can anyone NOT Love Christmas?  


                                       ©Copyright Larry Peterson 2016 All Rights Reserved

November 22, 2016

Visiting Homebound Elder-Catholics---A Privilege and sometimes, an Unexpected Challenge

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

I have been an EMHC (Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion) for over 20 years. I have had the honor and privilege of bringing Holy Communion to many people in many places: hospitals, nursing homes, hospice centers, assisted living facilities,and, of course, to the homebound. I love being part of this ministry and it has brought me in touch with some amazing people who have lived their Catholic lives quietly, faithfully and without fanfare or notoriety.

Most of those I visit are Elder-Catholics.These are the Catholic faithful who have, throughout their lives, supported their church, been active in various ministries and carried on the faith that was and still is, part of their very being. Some were born into the faith and it was nurtured in them by their parents and oftentimes by nuns, brothers, priests and Catholic laypersons.  They in turn have passed it on to their own children. Some found the faith as adults and converted. (I so admire those people.) And so, as is the way of things, the Church continues.

 I would like to share a story about one of these  people. His name is John. I have been bringing  Holy Communion to John every Sunday for a little more than a year. He is 90 years old, an Army veteran, spent almost 30 years in the Far-East and was married for 60 years. His wife, Mary, passed away several years ago. He loved her dearly and misses her greatly. John is not delusional, or suffering from dementia or anything like that. His mind is sharp and clear. Physically, John is  deaf (hearing aids help a tiny bit) and wheelchair bound.

 When I arrive at his front door, I push the doorbell. I hear a chime, he does not.  Inside, several strobe lights begin to flash notifying him someone is at the door. He is expecting me and the front door is unlocked. I walk in and he gives out a big, "Hey, hey, good morning." I more or less holler back, "Hey John, how you doing today?"  He is always wearing  a smile. He says, "Well, I'm still here."  We both laugh.

John is facing a dilemma.  He picks up the newspaper from a few days before and points to a story. "Have you gotten any feedback on this?" I look at the paper and he has it opened to an article dealing with the church's newly revised guidelines on cremation. I shrug and tell him I have not. He says, "I have a problem and maybe you can help me out. I need some guidance."

I am not "Father Larry" or "Deacon Larry"..I'm just Larry. I immediately feel a bit insecure because I do not like telling folks what they should or should not do when it comes to their personal faith issues. I quietly ask the Holy Spirit to quickly help me out. Then I say, "I'll try, John.  But I may not be able to. I will go to Father Anthony and ask him if necessary."

Being part of this ministry can have unexpected rewards. God was about to bless me with a glimpse into the hearts of two Catholics, a man and a woman,  people of faith who married in the faith and lived it and who shared a love that did not die upon the death of one--rather, it simply continued and still existed. John says to me, You know, I am upset about this article. It says we Catholics must bury the ashes of loved ones in sacred ground."

I said, "That isn't anything new. Some folks are scattering ashes over the Gulf of Mexico or off mountaintops or sharing them among family members. Those kinds of things are not approved of."

Look", he says. "I have Mary's ashes here with me. I talk to her everyday. I'm all alone and I feel she never really left and I get such comfort from that. Do I have to get her over to the cemetery?"

I'm looking at him and tears are filling his eyes. He wants to be a GOOD Catholic man and he loves his wife and wants to be loyal to her.  He will give her up if the Church requires it even though the pain he will feel is unimaginable. It did not matter. He would be true to his faith no matter what. I was looking at  a man who would have gladly embraced a martyr's crown if he had been called upon to do so.

 I knew that cremated remains are supposed to be kept intact and placed in a proper vessel. Nervously I began to answer but he continued. "I have a spot down at the VA for both of us. I made arrangements with the funeral home and when I pass they are going to take us together down to the VA and bury us next to each other."

I breathed a sigh of great relief.  Casting doubt to the wind I told him, "John, that is great. She can stay here with you. She is encased in a vessel and is scheduled for burial. You will make the trip to the VA together. Don't worry about a thing."

I will never forget the smile that broke out across his face. I'm not sure if I gave him  proper 'guidance'. No matter, in this case I am sure the Holy Spirit helped me out. I will check with the priest when I see him.

                                             ©Copyright Larry Peterson 2016 All Rights Reserved

November 19, 2016

The Grand Finale to the Jubilee Year of Mercy is Upon Us---Thanksgiving*

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

The Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy began on December 8, 2015, and Pope Francis gave us a quote to coincide with the Holy Year; “It is a favorable time to heal wounds, a time to offer everyone the way of Forgiveness and Reconciliation.”

On November 20, the Solemnity of Christ the King, The Holy Year will officially end. We will have focused on mercy and forgiveness for a year and received the graces that came along with it. It seems so fitting that the beauty and meaning of this entire Holy Year can now be encapsulated by the impending holiday season. The Holy Father wanted us to direct our actions and attention “on mercy so that we may become a more effective sign of the Father's actions in our lives . . . a time when the witness of believers might grow stronger and more effective".

Four days after the Holy Year ends we celebrate our great American holiday, Thanksgiving, and this year the holiday presents us with an extraordinary opportunity. What better time to show mercy and love, on a nationwide scale, from sea to shining sea, than Thanksgiving. It can be our grand finale to this grace filled year.

Thanksgiving is the one day of the year where we pause and simply give “Thanks” for all that we have, even if it is just a “little”; a job, good health, a cancer in remission, the subsiding of a three day old migraine headache, connecting with a long lost relative, the birth of a child, surviving a natural disaster...there are so many things that we can be thankful for. Most importantly, there is that great intangible that spreads across our nation on this day and it ties right into the culmination of the Holy Year of Mercy. That intangible is the abundance of mercy, forgiveness and love that explodes within the hearts of so many millions of people.


No-one in America needs to go hungry on Thanksgiving Day. On this day people all across the country and from every economic situation can have a turkey dinner. Homeless shelters and soup kitchens and prisons serve turkey. Folks who have little or no money are able to receive turkey baskets from various charitable organizations so they can have a turkey dinner at home with their families. You do not need to purchase gifts. All you have to do is show up, hang out, eat and enjoy the uplifted spirit of family and friends that are with you, even if they are strangers turned friends you just met in a soup kitchen.

In my parish alone, we manage to supply complete Thanksgiving baskets to about 250 families, feeding about 1000 people for the holiday. All of the food is donated by parishioners. Some folks donate money and that is used to purchase the frozen turkeys. In effect, virtually all the parishioners participate in the Giveaway. (I am sure many of you have similar programs in or near your own parishes.)

On the Sunday before Thanksgiving we distribute the turkeys and all the trimmings to people of all denominations in our area to take home for “turkey day”. Everything has come from the hearts of parishioners and is joyfully given to strangers so they might enjoy the day. How cool is that? And doesn’t it also speak to the Holy Father’s call to evangelize?

All across the United States, Catholic parishes, churches of other denominations, soup-kitchens and shelters, etc. show Christ’s mercy and love to strangers on Thanksgiving. It is a wondrous thing and such a beautiful way to finish up the Jubilee Year of Mercy. Unexpectedly, in the year 2016, the end of Holy Year of Mercy collided with our Thanksgiving holiday. If we listen we may even hear the “Drumsticks” smashing cymbals of mercy which resonate nationwide with sounds of love.

As we cross the finish line of the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy we thank God for having allowed us to be part of such a grace-filled year. We also should thank Him for Thanksgiving. We can consider it the Grand Finale to the Holy Year just completed. It is a beautiful thing.


                       *This article appeared in Aleteia on November 18, 2016   

                                     ©Copyright Larry peterson 2016 All Rights Reserved.